Move Your iTunes Playlists To Any USB Drive

Many DJs do a majority of their playlist organization within iTunes – especially DJs who find themselves regularly trying out new DJ software and platforms. Doing things in iTunes means that you have a near-universal organizational structure that most softwares can use. But when you want to move 50+ iTunes playlists to another computer or device, what’s the best way? Keep reading for two ways.

Why Would DJs Need To Export iTunes Playlists?

There’s a few different situations that a DJ might find themselves in that would require moving around large numbers of iTunes playlists onto external drives. Here’s some that you might be able to relate to:

  • Having a backup USB drive with your DJ music on it where the file structure mirrors your playlists (this is great for emergencies!)
  • Moving a set of playlists to another DJ’s laptop to play a B2B set (I recently did this with a B2B Traktor set)
  • Wanting to “start fresh” but keep a “cold storage” archive of all of your old playlists and associated tracks
  • Wanting to export a bunch of DJ playlists to review in your car if you have a USB reader

Yes, we’re well aware that you can move your entire iTunes library to a new computer or create a backup of the entire library all together. This article is focused on moving playlists and the associated songs – not your entire collection.

Move It Manually (More Time Consuming, But Free)

This one is reasonable if you have 5-10 playlists that you want to move. iTunes actually allows you to click and drag the contents of individual playlists. Note that you can’t drag playlists or playlist folders from the left side of iTunes directly into a Finder folder – there’s a strange limitation here that likely “trying to reduce piracy”.

Instead, your best bet for a process is:

  • make new folders on your USB drive for each playlist you want to export, named for each one
  • click into each playlist in iTunes
  • select all (control/command + A)
  • drag the tracks into the folder

If you just have a few playlists, this is reasonable. If you’re like me and you have hundreds of playlists (447 and counting!), it’s completely unreasonable – move on to the paid solution below.

Playlist Export Tool (Paid, But Fast)

Here’s the real tool that everyone who has to do this process should probably use: it’s called Playlist Export. There are other scripts and apps out there that do something similar, but this one is the most efficient that I’ve found so far (feel free to correct me in the comments).

  • App: Playlist Export
  • Developer: Eric Daugherty
  • Price: $4.99
  • Available on: MacOS only, in the Mac App store

The app is really easy to use:

  • open Playlist Export and it will read your default iTunes library (and tell you how many playlists and tracks you have)
  • hit “New” to create a new Export Template (templates are useful if you have to do this again later!)
  • Choose what playlists you want exported, if you want them to include .m3u playlist files (great for loading into other iTunes or Traktor installs), if you want the music files to be copies, etc
  • Select an export directory, then hit Save
  • Hit Export and your playlists will start writing to your selected folder!

The one drawback is that while your playlists are grouped by their master folders in the template manager, they are shown at the same level – so if you have multiple levels of folder hierarchy that you want in your USB drive, you might have to do some more work manually.

Have your own way that you export playlists? Let us know in the comments below.

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